Staff Report #6 – Update – New Year’s Eve Service (2019)

Staff Report #6

January 29, 2020

To All Commissioners

Re: Update – New Year’s Eve Service (2019)


That the report be NOTED and FILED.


New Year’s Eve Service – December 31, 2019

The “Ride the Bus on Us” program was first introduced in 1985 making 2019 the 35th consecutive year the service has been provided. The program provides complimentary service for riders on both conventional and specialized transit services on New Year’s Eve between the hours of 8 pm and 1 am.

The program is very well received by the community. Further, given the length of time the program has been in place, there is an expectation that London Transit will continue to provide the free service as the community has grown to rely on the service seeing it as an integral part of providing Londoners with a safe trip and an alternative to drinking and driving.

Table I provides a comparison of conventional transit ridership for 2016 through 2019. As indicated, 2019 ridership increased significantly by approximately 153% compared to 2018. New Year’s Eve ridership is variable from year to year based on a number of factors including weather, number and type of events being held and the location of the events.

Since 2016, there had been a downward trend in New Year’s Eve ridership with less people utilizing the service. In 2019 however, there was a significant increase in ridership, noting that the majority of the increase was seen before midnight. Additionally, 2019 is the first year with extended service to 1 am on nine routes throughout the year which may have an impact on the overall ridership.

Table I

Ridership Summary – Conventional Transit Service

Year 8pm to 12 Midnight Post-Midnight Total % Change
2016 8,683 2,037 10,720
2017 5,441 1,212 6,653 -37.9%
2018 4,030 1,104 5,134 -22.8%
2019 6,869 1,388 8,257 60.8%

Specialized transit service ridership for 2019 saw a decrease of 14% over 2018. A summary comparison of specialized services from 2016 to 2019 is set out in Table II.

Table II

Ridership Summary – Specialized Transit Service

Year 8pm to 12 Midnight Post-Midnight Total % Change
2016 39 17 56 37%
2017 46 8 54 -3.6%
2018 57 12 69 16.7%
2019 46 13 59 -14%

The estimated cost of the free evening is $17,655; summary particulars are set out in Table III. The costs associated with New Year’s Eve are variable depending on the number of London Police Services (LPS) paid duty officers available. For 2019, there were four LPS paid duty officers and two vehicles. The estimated cost is funded within the approved 2019 operating budget.

Table III

Summary of Costs – New Year’s Eve Service

Description Amount
Conventional Service
Loss of Revenue – 8pm to 12am $11,053
Loss of Revenue- 12 am to 1 am* $ 1,915
Incremental service delivery cost – post 12am $ 1,300
Specialized Service
Loss of Revenue – 8pm to 12am $ 120
Incremental service delivery cost – post 12am $ 425
Service Security (LPS) $ 2,852
Total Cost $17,665

*Loss of revenue on the nine routes that normally operate until 1 am

In addition to the above cost, Corus Radio (FM96, AM980, and 103.1 Fresh FM) advertised extensively leading up to New Year’s Eve at no charge. Schedule information was available to the public by way of special New Year’s Eve timetables (online only), and postings on London Transit’s website, as well as through a special Holiday Transit Talk. Information regarding the free service was also available on the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system as well as on London Transit’s social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook). The appropriate letter of appreciation has been sent to Corus Radio.

New Year’s Eve service for 2019 was relatively uneventful in terms of operational issues on a night where alcohol consumption is often part of the festivities. This is consistent with the trend over the past number of years where there has been a significant decrease in the number of incidents on-board the buses during New Year’s Eve service. As set out in Table IV below, in 2019 there were three on board issues with passengers resulting in two instances where the paid duty LPS officers had to attend.

Table IV

Summary of On-Board Passenger Issues

Issue 2016 2017 2018 2019
Workplace Violence 0 0 0 0
Biohazards1 1 0 0 0
Passenger Problem (behavior) 0 0 0 3
Vandalism 0 0 0 0
Medical Emergency2 0 0 0 0
Total 1 0 0 3
  1. Bodily fluids on bus requiring bus change-off
  2. Situations where EMS are dispatched to bus

Christmas Lights Tours

The Christmas Lights Tours program was first introduced in 1995. The program provides the opportunity for Londoners to tour the most popular Christmas lights destinations in the City. Popular locations include Victoria Park, Jena Crescent, Speight Boulevard, Guildwood Blvd, Ferndale Ave. and Chiddington Ave.

In 2015, London Transit suspended all charters, including the Christmas Lights tours, due to operational issues. Because of popular demand and requests from the community, the Christmas Lights tours were reintroduced in December 2017.

In order to ensure that all scheduled service as well as booked Christmas Lights tours were able to be staffed, restrictions on the number of buses used for the charters each day (four) as well as restrictions on the start time of the tours (no tours prior to 6 pm) were put in place in 2017 and have remained in effect. The fare for Christmas Lights tours in 2019 was $3 per person.

2019 again saw a slight increase in the number of tours provided over 2018, 28 versus 25 respectively. The total number of participants for the tour was down slightly however to 785 in 2019 as compared to 812 people in 2018.

The estimated net cost of the tours in 2019 was $3,755 reflecting the offset of the $3 minimum flat fee per registrant and certain of the tours (nine) being provided by volunteer Operators. The net cost is absorbed within the approved 2019 operating budget.

Recommended by:

Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager